This submission is for the SNES version of Wing Commander, a space/flight sim about a war between the Terrans (humans) and Kilrathi (cats.) This showcases the fastest route through the SNES version while still getting the good ending which involves finishing only 5 out of 21 levels and immediately ejecting in the other 16.
- Emulator used: Bizhawk 2.8
- Aims for fastest time
- Abuses damage "boosts"
- Ejects a whole bunch of times
Wing Commander was a game I loved as a kid, even if I didn't know you only had to win 5 missions for the true Any% route. The game features branching paths based on how well you perform across all the missions in each star system. Certain objectives give you "points" and if you have enough points you "win" the system and go down the path.
Insert path graphic here - https://i.imgur.com/9qo9J4C.png
As you can see, you can lose a whole bunch of times and end up in Hubble's Star, but if you win Hubble's Star you go to Rostov where you can win and go to Venice. Winning Port Hedland would be slower than losing it and winning Hubble's Star. Once at Venice you've already locked in the good ending no matter what you do, so our path through the game is:
Eject 11 times
Win Hubble's Star 1
Eject from HS2 (this mission SUCKS and is thankfully not required, we can get enough points from just 1 and 3)
Win Rostov 1 through 3 (note, the DOS version doesn't have to win Rostov 1 for some reason but the SNES version does. Luckily it's actually a very fast and straightforward mission.)
Eject 4 times from Venice (the 4th eject is the final input)
Stage by stage comments
Ejecting from your ship is an instant loss of the mission with 0 points even if you had completed objectives beforehand. You actually get a medal for the first time you eject but subsequent ejects get you scolded by the Colonel saying each ship costs over 100 million credits. Since we eject 16 times, the total cost is over 1.6 billion credits. Take that taxpayers! Education budget is getting slashed again in favor of military spending. This game is nothing if not realistic.
You can also progress without ejecting but it's basically just "fly away and come back" which is obviously way slower.
Hubble's Star 1
The first mission we actually play has us flying a Scimitar which is probably the crappiest ship in the fleet. We don't get to choose our ship or wingman, it's static based on the star system that you're in. In this mission we have to kill an enemy Ace pilot, destroy a Ralari (capital ship/cruiser) and destroy two Dorkirs (troop transports.)
First thing we do is open the map and change our target to Nav 2. Then we hit autopilot.
Autopilot flies you basically in a straight line toward your destination, and can only be done outside of combat or hazard zones (asteroids or mine fields.) It takes about 10-12s for the cutscene to play out and you'll either exit at your destination or if your flight path hits a hazard zone or enemy spawn it'll kick you out there.
We choose Nav 2 for positional purposes. It lets us get behind the Ralari (all capital ships are weak from behind/in the engine) faster. We ignore the Krants (enemy medium fighters) and just drop the Ralari with a barrage of gun shots and all but one missile (which is slightly faster to use later.)
Once the Ralari is down we proceed onward to where the enemy Ace spawns, along with 3 other Dralthi (enemy light fighter) which are the weakest/easiest ships to kill.
The gun we have is the mass driver, which is the medium gun. It's got less range than the laser cannon which we sadly never get to use so we have to get a little closer to the enemies. Later on we get to use a neutron gun but more on that later.
We bait the Ace where we want him by shooting a shot ahead of time. Enemy AI can be influenced by different positions/speeds/angles and shots as well as your wingman messing with them. He goes down in a few shots then we use the missile we saved earlier to instaa-kill one, gun down the other two and go for the Dorkirs. We don't tehnically have to kill all 4 Dralthis but it lets us fast travel after the Dorkirs since they won't be there to prevent that and it'd take too long to get far enough away from them otherwise. Plus they're not really out of the way since we do have to kill the Ace.
One interesting thing in this game is that your ship can be damaged in certain areas. Missiles can be shot off of you, and so can guns. We lose our right gun flying toward the first Dorkir which lets us go ham with the left gun and is a little faster than using both guns due to shot graphics/blaster energy expendidture/etc. The second Dorkir takes a little longer due to not having full blaster energy (which regenerates over time of not shooting) but once it's down we set our destination to home, auto pilot, request landing, and land (which is basically just fly at the ship after radiong in the request, landing is automatic.
Hubble's Star 3
This is an ambush style mission. You're tasked with checking out an unknown enemy task force but when you get there it turns out to be a decoy and your base is in peril. So you autopilot toward the bogies, and luckily you can autopilot right back to base to deal with the ambush.
The first 4 enemies are Grathas (similar to IRL fighter jets in that they have a plethora of guns up front and are weak from behind if you interept them.) The first two are close enough to be drawn in and blasted. For the first one we draw it in and get behind it to finish it off with a missile (one missile alone is not enough, we need to shoot it on the way in) and the second one gts hit by a Bossman missile meaning we can drop it quickly from the front which is not always viable.
However, the 3rd and 4th Grathas took a trip to Space McDonald's or something and they're VERY far away. This game is weird in that sometimes the AI just doesn't make any sense. If I'm boosting toward them you'd think it wouldn't take that long to get there, but the AI basically has to be "Activated" first before we can do anything meaningful to it, so we have to wait it out while we boost toward them. Also in the SNES version only one enemy can be "active" at a time, or else the game might start melting or something as it's pretty laggy in general. We ice the first one from the front with a bunch of shots and 2 missiles. The second one gets baited, we get behind it, blast it and go. The one good thing about being this far out is we can autopilot back to the base which spawns in the last two enemies we need to kill a little faster and closer. These are Jalthis (green heavy fighter) which are slow and cumbersome but very powerful. One of them is flown by an ace. The non-ace one activates first. We pump a bunch of shots into its engine. Even though it looks like the shots should go around it, the hitboxes in this game are finicky which is actually generally a good thing.
We ram our ship into the ace to change trajectory and end up behind him faster for more bullet-in-engine action, then we fly straight home. We win Hubble's Star and move on to Rostov where we get to fly Raptors. Ships, not actual Raptors (though how badass would that have been?)
This mission looks painful on paper. Tons of nav points to hit, tons of asteroids... Luckily we only need to do the bare minimum here which is hit one nav point, kill a Dorkir and go home. This gives us enough points.
The Dorkir jumps in at Nav point 3 but we have to kill a couple Grathas to make it actually spawn. Luckily it's only two. Even luckilier they activate fast and we can use our fancy new "full guns" option since this ship has a mass driver and a neutron gun. Neutron guns are powerful but have little range. We also don't need to save missiles for any reason so we blow them on these Grathas who go down pretty much instantly.
We reposition ourselves to where the Dorkir spawns, do that thing where we lose a gun, blast it to bits, and fly straight back home. No need for autopilot due to the small map and ships/asteroids everywhere.
This mission has a simple requirement. There's a Ralari, and we have to kill it.
We move a little bit before we autopilot to get a more favorable exiting position/angle which lets us fly head on into the Ralari, kill our engines, spin behind it and wreck it. Very straightforward.
There is an asteroid field between that and the base so we don't bother with autpilot (and there's way too many enemies anyway) so we just boost straight through back home and this simple mission is finished.
Our final played mission involves a Fralthi, which is a bigger capital ship, bigger and more dangerous than the Ralari. We angle in the beginning for more optimal auto piloting. We position ourselves where the Fralthi jumps in and do the Ralari strats of pumping everything into its engine. Unsurprisingly this is super effective and it only takes a couple additional shots to bring down.
After this, we fly in a certain direction toward Nav 1 since there are numerous asteroids between the Fralthi and home base. However, some of the Fralthi's escort chased us so we have to kill one Krant (full guns head on) before we can autopilot, plus we spin the enemies off the screen to avoid lag during this. We fly the rest of the way home.
Since we're at Venice now, we've already won. After ejecting from Venice 4 you can see the eject animation in all its glory. Badass pilot in standard military attire: Leather jacket and jeans, who apparently banged his junk on the control stick before ejecting. Plus you get to see the base ship wipe out a hapless fighter with some eyeball bullets or something. The end.
ThunderAxe31: Claiming for judging.
ThunderAxe31: It's good to see a game mechanics getting exploited. This feels similar to Armored Core, where you can just forfeit on the unnecessary missions. What matters for beating the game is reaching the ending cutscene. Accepting.